Texas

Richie, Robert Yarnall / Flickr Creative Commons

Texas isn’t quite as special these days as it has been for most of this new century, claims a new editorial in the Dallas Morning News.

The state, notes the contributor Richard Parker, “has burned brightly since the beginning of the century.”

But now that bright Lone Star is cooling off. Parker is careful to note that the state’s changing fortunes don’s so much signal a downturn as “a leveling off.”

SMU Central University Libraries / Flickr Creative Commons

Back in July, The New Yorker’s Lawrence Wright published an investigation into the politics of the Lone Star State entitled “America’s Future is Texas.” The essay became one of The NewYorker’s most popular pieces of 2017.

This week Wright followed up his politics piece with a look at the Texas economy’s longstanding attachment to the fossil-fuel industry, which has resulted in a seemingly endless boom-and-bust cycle.

Texas Voters Approve Seven Constitutional Amendments

Nov 9, 2017
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Texans on Tuesday night voted in favor of seven constitutional amendments.

As The Texas Tribune reports, as of late Tuesday evening, about 85 percent voted in favor of a proposition authorizing tax exemptions for certain partially disabled veterans and their surviving spouses. It was a similar outcome for a proposition authorizing property tax exemptions for surviving spouses of first responders killed in the line of duty.

My Plates press release

Seventeen years ago, at the dawn of the new millennium, the State of Texas scrapped its traditional white license plates for a more graphics-heavy design.

The 2000 plate, with its cowboy and space shuttle and oil derricks and moon and stars, gained popularity among some but was lambasted by others who saw the design as an unfortunate departure from the clean design of the past.

If you fall into the first group, then you have cause to rejoice this month as the state has announced that independent contractor My Plates is bringing back the millennial design.

Could Pot Be Closer To Legalization In Texas?

Oct 26, 2017
CHUCK GRIMMETT / CREATIVE COMMONS

Legalized pot has taken great strides in Texas over the past couple of years, thanks in part to a surprising ally – a conservative lawmaker and fundamentalist Christian who actually used the Bible to make the case for legalizing weed.

Laura Buckman / Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

Continuing a dramatic reversal on voting rights under President Donald Trump, the U.S. Department of Justice is asking a federal appeals court to allow Texas to enforce a photo voter identification law that a lower court found discriminatory.

Department of Defense

Hurricane Harvey may permanently alter the way the State of Texas operates. As POLITICO reports, the storm may put a serious dent in the Lone Star State’s penchant for rugged individualism.

Sean MacEntee / Flickr Creative Commons

What do High Plains folks hate the most?

There’s a new app called Hater that works like Tinder, except it matches users based on common things they loathe.

As The Houston Chronicle reports, according to the app’s users, the most common thing Texans hate is . . . “sleeping with the window open.”

This may come as a surprise, as there are so many things to hate in Texas, like rattlesnakes and poorly constructed tacos.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

Emmanuel Garza moved from Texas to Colorado so his baby daughter could get the medical marijuana treatment she needed. Legislation to legalize the same treatment in Texas failed to pass during the regular legislative session.

By Alex Samuels, The Texas Tribune

Madelynn Garza had her first seizure at three months old.

Texas State Library and Archives Commission

This week The New Yorker published an extended essay about Texas, calling the Lone Star State “the nation’s bellwether” and pondering if the future of the United States might look something like the current situation in Texas. The author of the essay is Lawrence Wright, a Pulitzer-Prize winning author and long-time Texan.

CC0 Public Domain

Under a proposal added to the Texas House budget last week, funding could go to a program to rehabilitate victims of sex trafficking.

Houston Chronicle

Perhaps more than any other state, President Donald Trump has shown an affinity for the policies and politicians of the Lone Star State. He’s installed Texans like Rick Perry and Rex Tillerson in his cabinet, and his low-tax, anti-regulation attitude is closely aligned with the philosophy of Texans like Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

It begs the question: Does Trump want to make America like Texas?

Victor / Creative Commons

There are 313,000 victims of human trafficking in the state of Texas, according to a new groundbreaking study by the University of Texas. That puts the number of human trafficking victims in the state at fifty percent larger than the entire population of Amarillo. As The Austin American-Statesman reports, 80,000 of those victims are minors involved in sex trafficking.

Texas ranks in the top 10 for worst drivers

Nov 24, 2016
Car Insurance Comparison

According to a national study, Texans are among the worst drivers in America.

Using information gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Car Insurance Comparison published a list of America’s worst drivers by state and Texas tied with Louisiana for the largest number of fatal car crashes and their causes.

National Archive/Newsmakers/Getty

For some reason, Texas always seems to spring to mind when people are thinking of destruction on a huge scale.

Take the 1998 movie Armageddon, for example, in which Planet Earth is threatened by an asteroid “the size of Texas.”

The fact is, sometimes it’s not great to be intimately linked with bigness. Last week, Russia unveiled a brand new ballistic missile. The country proudly announced that the warhead is big enough “to wipe out Texas.”

David Woo / Dallas Morning News

We hear a lot of stories about how Texas shapes the wider world. From oil policy to cowboy lore, the Lone Star State has an outsized impact on planet earth. But last week The New York Times published an editorial on how the shape of Texas shapes the conversation about Texas.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Texas has stopped helping poor families pay their electric bills, reports The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Over the past years the Lone Star State ran a program called Lite-Up Texas. The initiative offered discounts to thousands of poor Texas families who were struggling to keep the lights on. But now the Public Utility Commission says the program has run out of money. The financial help ended on Aug. 31.

Patrick Michels / Texas Observer

The US Supreme Court remains evenly divided with four conservative and four liberal justices. This provides Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton with a legal method of getting his way relatively consistently.

Alex Livesey / Getty Images

Texas athletes fared remarkably well during the first week of the Olympics, reports Texas Monthly. During the first seven days in Rio, Texans took home thirteen medals, eight of which were golds. As a matter of fact, a full one third of the United States’ medal count has been won by Texan athletes.

Office of the Governor/Texas Tribune

Texas officials have asked all state agencies to scale back their costs by four percent, in an effort to curb spending. The cuts will affect agency budgets for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, reports The Texas Tribune. The request was announced in a letter from Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov.

Shelby Knowles / Texas Tribune

Last year Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush fired the people in charge of running the Alamo, one of Texas’s most hallowed tourist destinations. The group, known as the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, had managed the monument for more than a century.

Shelby Knowles / Texas Tribune

The Texas Governor’s office seems to have a problem appointing replacements to state boards and commissions in a timely manner. According to The Texas Tribune, the state now has 336 holdover appointees. Those are people whose terms have expired but whose replacements have not been named.

Laura Buckman / Texas Tribune

Recent efforts to prevent suicide in Texas are focusing on the state’s small towns, reports The Texas Tribune. The Tribune recently analyzed Texas death records from 2004 to 2013. The paper found that the rate of suicide is 15 percent higher in counties with an urban population of less than 20,000 people than it is in more metropolitan counties.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

Health advocates cheered this week when Oklahoma officials announced they were considering expanding Medicaid in that state. Oklahoma has been missing out on millions of federal health care dollars with its decision to not participate in the Affordable Care Act. But with ballooning budget problems and rising health care costs in the state, opting out no longer seems viable. And that means Texas could be next, reports member station KUT.

Tom Fox / Dallas Morning News

Last weekend The Dallas Morning News reprinted in full a New York Times article about what it means to be a Texan in the 21st century. The essay read, in part, “[Texans] believe that their way of life is under assault and that they are making a kind of last stand by simply being Texan.”

Tim Patterson / Texas Tribune

Americans are moving to Texas from other states in droves, reports The Texas Tribune. From 2005 to 2013, almost six million people moved to Texas, and five million of those came from one of the other 49 states. That means Texas grew by an average of 345 people per day during that period—and the influx hasn’t abated.

Kin Man Hui / San Antonio Express-News via AP

The once-fringe Texas secession movement is gaining ground, and has become a priority for some conservative grass-roots Texans. A new Washington Post article reports that when Texas Republicans assemble for their state convention next month, it’s possible they’ll debate whether to secede. The Post makes clear that there’s little chance secession will actually happen.

Texas Tribune

After months of scrutiny and controversy, the foster care system in Texas appears to be worsening instead of improving, according to The Texas Tribune. Abused children are being left in psychiatric facilities far past the eight to 10 days covered by Medicaid. In fact, that’s an understatement: As of August, children were being held for an average of 768 days.

Chan Lone / Texas Tribune

Late last year a federal judge ordered the State of Texas to reform its foster care laws. U.S. District Judge Janis Jack of Corpus Christi claimed the Texas foster care system violated children's civil rights by subjecting them to rampant neglect and abuse. Judge Jack appointed special “masters” to oversee the reforms, reports The Texas Tribune. The masters are expected to study the system and recommend changes.

politico.com

In 2015, the first full year after Texas enacted tough new regulations on abortion clinics, there were 9,000 fewer abortions performed in the state, reports The Christian Science Monitor. The Supreme Court has called the tightening of abortion access in Texas a “controlled experiment” for the enacting of similar laws in other states.

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